February 12, 2015
You don’t have to love math to enjoy 3.14, a bakery in White Center, but it does help if you like pie. Which I do. It was a bit of a drive from Cap Hill, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the homey bakery. You’re not overwhelmed by the selection of baked goods, but there were plenty to choose from – and not just pie.
The owner was friendly and patient, and it was nice to be the only hipster in sight. I took my time and chose a couple cake balls, a blueberry muffin top, and a cherry mini-pie.
The red velvet cake ball (bottom left) didn’t do it for me, but the chocolate peanut butter one was everything a cake ball should be – dense, moist, almost like a truffle. It had strong peanut flavors and the chocolate was rich. As for the muffin top (top of the picture), I had never seen such a thing! Who would just sell tops of muffins? After eating it, I see why it’s a thing. It’s like a mini cookie-cake for breakfast! It was fresh-tasting and not at all dry, even the next day. No bitter aftertaste either, just flour and blueberry goodness.
The cherry pie was the winner. I don’t even love pie, especially cherry, but the owner recommended it. And I’m converted. I warmed it up two days later in the oven, and it tasted fresh, flaky, and buttery. The cherry filling wasn’t too sweet or too tart, and there was just the right ratio of filling to crust. This might be my new favorite pie. I just wish they were closer. 3.14, come to Cap Hill, or at least do some farmers markets!
January 27, 2015
In need of a sweet treat and a strong espresso one dark winter day, I took myself down to Columbia City to check out Empire Espresso. I had heard about their waffle concoctions – all sorts of exciting topping combinations (lime and powdered sugar!), and their coffee (single-origin, made for hipsters). I also knew it would be a cozy and friendly place to get some work done, and I was lucky to come at a time when it wasn’t jam-packed.
I got my espresso plus the nutella banana waffle. The coffee was intense and gave me the boost I needed to chip away at my never-ending supply of work. The waffle was large they sure didn’t hold back on the bananas:
Which was fine, since ever since I visited Oaxaca (see my “on the road” page) I’ve been obsessed with banana-based desserts. And nutella always works for me! My only complaint was that the waffle, while perfectly fresh and not over or undercooked, was a bit on the heavy/salty side. It seemed like it was cornmeal based but I could be wrong. In any case, I would have preferred a lighter, fluffier, and sweeter waffle. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my overall experience here and I can see why this place is so popular!
December 20, 2014
Trove, a new “concept restaurant” on Cap Hill is unique and inventive, without being too gimmicky. It’s a four-part restaurant: noodle bar, beverage bar, BBQ restaurant, and ice cream parlor. I went to 3 out of 4 (skipping the noodles) and was pretty pleased but I’ll just focus on the dessert portion.
Ok, so maybe it’s a little gimmicky. The ice cream section of the restaurant group is themed like an ice cream truck. You can get the parfaits from their walk-up window, or order it for dessert in the restaurant. It being winter, I did the latter. The menu offers two versions of each parfait: a classic take and a Korean fusion take (the restaurant overall is Korean-fusion). For example, you can get a “new school” Snickers parfait: black sesame cake, miso caramel, and candied peanuts. I went with the “old school” Snickers, pictured on the left:
My friend got the root beer float parfait (new-school style). I ended up wishing I had tried the more innovative new-school version because mine was a little bland. I liked it, but I think Frozen Custard does it better. I’ll be back to try the new-school options when it warms up!
October 16, 2014
A Cap Hill cafe with a neighborhood feel? There aren’t a ton, but there is Barjot, (related to Joe Bar, also in Cap Hill and also with a neighborhood vibe). Although Barjot is only recently arrived on the scene, it’s already pretty popular with folks… and their dogs (there were about 5 when I visited). There are freshly baked goodies as well as a limited selection of full breakfasts and lunch fare. They also do a mean espresso as well as fresh juice:
I started out with an excellent croissant, which tasted as good as it looked. Flakey, not doughy or dry, and just the right size for a pre-breakfast snack:
This tided me over until my breakfast arrived (it’s freshly made, so it does take a bit of time, especially if you get the baked eggs). I decided to get another dessert as my main breakfast – the bread pudding with lemon curd. It came with apples and blueberries, and the pudding and curd were both to die for.
This place gets an A+ in my book and I will be back, in spite of the fact I don’t live in the neighborhood.
October 10, 2014
Lately I’m all about the micro-bakeries… that homemade taste that’s so hard to replicate in more industrial bakeries. I discovered Sod House Bakery on a recent visit to the U-District farmer’s market and was intrigued by the “pop-tarts” – pastries filled with fruit spread and topped with frosting. Much more tasty than the grocery store version, but not as good as their brownie.
Deeply cocoa-y with a silky texture, this was a brownie worth its calories. The baker claims to be a big fan of cinnamon buns, so I also walked away with one of those for my next-day’s breakfast. Good idea!!
Not over or undercooked, not overly sweet but still very indulgent, with just the right amount of cinnamon and frosting. Definitely one of the best I’ve had, and I’m picky about my buns! My only wish with Sod House is that they had a storefront so I could go there whenever I wanted… but then it might start tasting industrial.
August 30, 2014
When Mon Hei Bakery in the International District burned down, I had to start looking for a replacement spot to get my cocktail bun fix. I decided to try Sweet & Fresh Bakery, which has been around for years but is somewhat off the beaten path. It’s a pretty typical Chinese bakery, and is simple and unassuming in both atmosphere and food.
I ordered the coconut bun (I didn’t see cocktail buns) and the egg custard. The coconut bun was fine; sweet and light dough with the typical sweetened coconut filling. The custard was was really impressed me. It was definitely eggy, which was strange to my taste buds, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed that taste and texture in a dessert.
The syrup (hidden at the bottom of the dish) helped sweeten the pudding without overdoing the job. Overall, I’d say well done Sweet & Fresh… but I still pine for my Mon Hei cocktail bun.